MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

RIP Leonard Cohen (1934-2016)

The losses continue mercilessly.

From the New York Times obituary:

Mr. Cohen was an unlikely and reluctant pop star, if in fact he ever was one. He was 33 when his first record was released in 1967. He sang in an increasingly gravelly baritone. He played simple chords on acoustic guitar or a cheap keyboard. And he maintained a private, sometime ascetic image at odds with the Dionysian excesses associated with rock ’n’ roll.

[…]

“The changeless is what he’s been about since the beginning,” the writer Pico Iyer argued in the liner notes for the anthology “The Essential Leonard Cohen.” “Some of the other great pilgrims of song pass through philosophies and selves as if through the stations of the cross. With Cohen, one feels he knew who he was and where he was going from the beginning, and only digs deeper, deeper, deeper.”

Filed under: music news, obituary

RIP Sir Neville Marriner (1924-2016)

Gramophone looks back over the long, influential career of a master:

Sir Neville Marriner’s natural habitat for the past half-century has been the recording studio. With the Academy of St Martin in the Fields he has made hundreds of recordings of a breadth of repertoire that few other conductors (even the equally eclectic Herbert von Karajan) achieved…. His performances of music of the Classical period … were characterised by the vitality and energy of which Murray Perahia speaks.

From Tim Page’s obituary:

The decision to name the ensemble the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields was a practical one.

“It was the place where we gave our first ever concert back in 1958, so there’s significance in that,” Mr. Marriner told the London Daily Telegraph in 2014. “But the real reason we took the name was that the vicar let us rehearse there for free so long as we publicized the church. That was the deal. And it was his idea that we should be an ‘academy’ rather than the ‘chamber orchestra’ we’d originally planned to call ourselves.”

 

Filed under: music news, obituary

Pierre Boulez, Modernist Legend, Dies at 90

PierreBoulez-1050x700Here’s my obituary for Napster:

French composer and conductor Pierre Boulez, who wielded incalculable influence on the modern music scene, died at his home in Baden-Baden, Germany, on Tuesday, January 5. He was 90.

Boulez gained fame as an uncompromising champion of the avant-garde and ranked among the towering figures of European modernism in the 20th century. He remained a powerful force for innovation in the world of classical music until his death.

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Filed under: music news, obituary, Pierre Boulez

RIP Pierre Boulez (1925-2016)

The end of an era. From Lucerne Festival director Michael Haefliger’s eulogy :

“I am a French composer, conductor, and writer.” Most likely, this is the answer Pierre Boulez would have given anyone who asked him to describe his work as an artist: an answer that is precise, to the point, without ostentation or any kind of theatrical posing. This is how most of us “youngsters” experienced, felt, and saw Pierre Boulez. And this is how he became a great model for us, indeed, almost a “demigod.” We admired what he did and the goals which he steadfastly pursued, regardless of whether they involved relatively small or large revolutions. Last night, he left us. We mourn the loss of a great human being and artist, one who infinitely enriched and influenced this Festival.

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Filed under: Lucerne Festival, obituary, Pierre Boulez

In memoriam: Gerald Perman

gperman

Last month saw the passing of Gerald Perman, the generous and unfailingly gracious music lover who did so much for the arts in my hometown. I fondly recall many wonderful musical experiences in the early days of the Vocal Arts Society (including the solo DC debut of a soprano named Renée Fleming).

Tim Page on the legacy of this wonderful man:

Gerald Perman, a Washington psychiatrist who became a concert impresario in his late 60s when he founded the Vocal Arts Society, a group that presented celebrated and unknown singers in classical repertory from around the world, died April 11 at his home in Washington. He was 91.

complete obituary

Filed under: obituary

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